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What is a Transplant Nurse?

By Shannon Philpott
Updated May 17, 2024
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A transplant nurse works in hospital settings, medical facilities and physician offices, overseeing organ transplants and donations. The primary responsibility of this type of nurse is to ensure safe and fair patient care before, during and after organ transplants. Transplant recipients and donors need specialized care to ensure that they are able to live a healthy and productive life following an organ transplant. Transplant nurses work closely with patients to improve their quality of life before, during and after organ transplants.

Most transplant nurses are certified as registered nurses. To obtain certification, a transplant nurse must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing in addition to state licenses to practice. A transplant nurse is trained to work directly with patients battling a chronic illness or those in need of a kidney transplant or bone marrow transplant. Nurses often take continued education courses at higher education institutions to maintain a working knowledge base of transplant technology and nursing procedures. These courses may include additional classes on anatomy and physiology, psychology and nursing technology.

A transplant nurse performs many of the same duties as a general practice registered nurse. On the job, transplant nurses check vital signs, document symptoms, monitor the comfort level of patients and report changes and progress to physicians and surgeons. In addition, a transplant nurse will administer medication, adjust intravenous (IV) lines, insert catheters and draw blood. Although a transplant nurse can perform all of the regular duties of a registered nurse, he or she also specializes in procedures specific to organ transplants, such as long-term follow-up and aftercare of living-donor patient care. A transplant nurse cares for patients in all stages of care, from the initial stage of diagnosis to the donation and transplantation process to the preoperative and intraoperative care following surgery.

One of the primary responsibilities of a transplant nurse is to educate patients, families and community residents about organ donation and organ transplants. Patients with an acute illness or chronic illness often need a strong support system. Transplant nurses can provide patients with referrals to support groups and medical workshops that will better inform patients of options and additional resources. In both hospitals and medical offices, a transplant nurse will work directly with a patient and his or her family to provide instructions on medications, precautions and medical procedures. In order to provide adequate patient care for patients with a chronic illness, a transplant nurse must work to build the trust of the patient and his or her family.

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